Gadget Review – Doorbot

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As part of our house move, I wanted to avoid missing knocks on the door in future.  Be it travel or just being too far from the door.  Gab and Tim had purchased a Doorbot in the past, and were quite pleased, so I decided to make the jump.

First of all, the doorbot is shipped from the USA, so if you are in the UK, expect a Customs Charge if you are unlucky (I was).  The device is nicely presented and comes with all tools needed to fit an install on your door/wall.  Compared to a standard doorbell, it is chunky, but security bells are typically larger in my experience.

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Installation is simple.  Everything you need to complete the installation (screws, hex screw, screwdriver etc) comes with the device.  The physical installation requires you to drill a mount plate for the doorbot.  You can connect “real” doorbell wires to this plate, which will be used then to interact with your internal doorbell (if you have one).  It also keeps the doorbot charged for you.  After you have the plate fitted, you hook the front piece (the camera and button/speaker) to the plate and secure using a hex screw which is supplied.

The software installation requires you to download the app (google play or App Store).  Download the app, then press the button on the device, it will create a wireless network and you join it to your real network via the interface.   You can invite multiple users to the device so  notifications are sent to whichever users you wish once the bell is rung.

Once installed and configured, once you ring the bell, your doorbell rings as normal.  Also your devices get notification.  From there you can choose to ignore the notification, see who it is or “push to talk” to the person.

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So… The Good

The device looks well, albeit big.   Personally I would like a more subtle, square design, but that is my taste.  Installation is easy and it feels secure and rugged.  The battery in the device will last for a year and you can recharge via usb, OR it will take charge from the bell wires if you have them connected.  Vision is good, audio is good.  Night vision is good.

The Bad.

The mobile apps need work.  Notifications are slow (about 7 seconds on average from doorbell ring) and then it takes more time for the screen to open so you can hold to talk or see the person ringing.  Newer versions are needed.  If bandwidth is an issue, the “hold to talk” button should work before video is there so I can at least speak to the person.  Additionally there should be desktop software for Mac and PC.

All in all, it is a good device but severely lacking on the software side.

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The pebble experiment ends

pebble

 

Today I turned off my pebble watch.  It has been placed in my “history of tech” pile.  I loved the smartwatch concept since Kickstarter made headlines with the Pebble.  When I (eventually) got the watch I was pleasantly surprised with the look and the basic functionality.  After the recent OS upgrade, it felt like a new watch, with much more features and use cases.    However, the connectivity with iOS always sucked for me.  To this day notifications passed phone/text were very hit and miss. Starting a run and wondering if the Runkeeper App would work irritated.  I tried full re-installs and full application rebuilds but I could never say “it just worked” for me.  And in this day and age “it just works” is the norm for consumer tools.    So, thank  you Pebble for upping the game.  I’m excited to see Motorola’s announcements today and what is to come from apple but I think this is where we end our journey.

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Announcing the Dash4Dosh 2014

Over the past few years, fantastic community members have put in their time for sponsored “danders” in various locations for charity.  Many thousands have been raised and many blisters earned.  A few of us have always liked the idea of going alongside these fine folk to raise money.  But there has been a unavoidable issue.

We hate walking.

So, enter the “dash4dosh” (yes, it’s a facebook page.  Please like and share it).  Myself, Sean Cull, Chris Harris, Gregg Edred, joining some of our friends in Denmark and even potentially a few support cars are doing something silly.

We are riding bikes from our homes past the arctic circle and back to Wales, UK, to meet up with other community members.  The final route is not sorted as yet, but it goes something like this for me.

Belfast->Stranraer->Preston->Harwich->Ejsberg->through Denmark heading east->the east coast of Sweden->Finland->West to North West Norway->South the west coast of Norway->back to Denmark->West through Denmark->back to UK->Wales->Belfast.

Mileage… a lot (no idea on numbers, but roughly 4,000 miles at least) on very little motorway.  We are paying for all of this ourselves, but have setup a joint charity page for MacMillan Cancer Support.  Please support me, or choose anyone else from the team and support them (or all of us,but I don’t want to be mean!).

We are geeks.  You will be able to track us on the trip via a page linked to my iPhone.

Any help is appreciated of course.  I have some ideas to try to get corporates and geeks to throw some cash at it too.  These will follow later.  So please do spread the word, and if you have money to spare, please sponsor.  If not, some good vibes, support and sharing/linking the page would be appreciated.

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As I have been asked a few times (ethical hacking / Domino)

After the BP107 presentation “defending the perimeter” at IBM Connect, I have had a few (quite a few more than I would have expected) queries on if I would run the ethical hacking/domino workshop again.  The answer is the the typical answer of any consultant when asked if they would run a paid workshop again.

“Of course”

Just get in touch.  I have ran it at events and also on customer sites.  You just need to do the paperwork with my pimps.

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Adminblast 2014 slide deck available for download

I have uploaded the Adminblast 2014 deck to my resources page for download.  Many many thanks to Gab Davis for presenting with me and keeping us on track and on time.

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The future of mobile communication.

I remember when my mobile phone bill could have been calculated by the weight of the  posted invoice.  Any international road-warrior with requirements to provide support and be contactable has suffered extensively from roaming bills for calls and data.  I wince at the thoughts of how much I cost my company on the mobile phone for making and taking calls from anywhere,anytime.

This is starting to change.  Three.co.uk have made a brave move.

A few months ago I switched to the Three phone plan for my use from O2.  This includes the “feel at home” data roaming option.  Simply put, once I am in a country that is approved (including USA, ROI, Denmark, Sweden and m0re) I can happily data roam on my phone, or call the UK, all out of my normal plan.  No extra charges.  No selected networks.  Now my smart phone stays smart, without having to worry about the cost.  Hopefully other carriers follow.  IMG_1102

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VMWare acquire Airwatch

Smart move for VMWare to get into the space by acquisition of one of the main players.

VMware will acquire AirWatch, a mobile device management company, in a $1.17 billion cash deal that will give the virtualization software provider a play in mobility. VMware will also pay $365 million in installment payments and unvested stock options.

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A job versus a passion

Over the past few years, I have seen some gamification attempts at IBM Connect.  I cannot say if they were deemed failures or not, but they always felt “forced” to me.  The objective of the game is that IBM want you to increase their trending during the event.  The community leaders in IBM try to do this with very little resources given to them.  This year, I see community people do it themselves, just for fun.  Not only do they do it, they do it in style.

Take a look at Dolphindoor.  IBM, please take note.

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A government bond site.. sending clear text passwords

A year ago, Tescos (US readers, think Walmart) got in a *lot* of hot water for sending clear, unencrypted passwords by email to customers.    When tech security hits mainstream press, you know you have screwed up (or been caught) big time.  With the haze of the holiday period disappearing, I plunged into my mailbox and noticed a couple of emails from an Irish Agency.  The irish government prize bonds agency.

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It was real, from their real address with my online bond-tracking password in clear text.  Let’s put this in some level of perspective.  It is estimated (by end of 2010) that the total value of Irish prize bonds was estimated at €1.33 billion.  Over 1% of the country’s's national debt. (source).   Figuring something was up, I logged in and changed my password.  Then did a “forgotten password request” to get my new password sent to me, in clear text.

I emailed them querying this woeful security.  Some of the response.

I understand that you have received an e-mail containing a Bond Tracker password. I can confirm that this e-mail would have been sent from the Prize Bond website.

In the event you have not requested your  password we confirm from time to time this can happen and is usually the result of one of two possible scenarios.

1) A Bond Tracker user in logging on, makes a typing error which may result in the user name being wrong by one digit or letter. (this username will then be the same as yours). The password will then be rejected and the user requests that the forgotten password is e-mailed to them. As they’ve inadvertently logged on as you, the e-mail will be sent to your address.

2) From time to time you can get people who browse various websites and randomly try usernames to try and access details. If one of these people guessed your username, they could request your password. Again the password would only ever be sent to your e-mail address.

In both of these cases your password is only ever sent to your e-mail address. No one else receives it. Both of these scenarios are rare and of the two I would say it’s a case of someone accidentally keying in your username and then requesting the password, which they never receive.

In the event you have requested your password it will be sent directly to your email address which will contain your new password therefore to use when logging onto the Bond Tracker.

My follow on email explaining that the basic premise of the security model is terrible and do they understand that has as yet, remained unanswered.  For a basic site or free service to do this, it is poor.  For a company to do it, terrible.  For a multi billion government agency to do this, it is .. “fascinating”.

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Animated gifs in Keynote 6

The new “Mavericks” version of Keynote comes with substancial changes.  Since many of us on the presentation track use keynote heavily I was expecting hatred to the new build, but in fact it is working out quite well, although there are a few quirks.

If you try to add an animated gif to a presentation in Keynote 06 it will not work.  If you want it to work, rename the file to animated.gif.MOV (add the .mov extension) and add it in.  Keynote will now think its a movie file and treat it as such.

You’re welcome.

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